Ticketmaster digs deeper into the secondary market

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Phish may not jam to it, but the secondary ticket market is getting bigger all the time.

The band gave its cultish followers something to swoon over today — a fairly cheap-seats three-night reunion — and something to (potentially) whine about — no resales on tickets sold through the band’s site, with the risk of being turned away at the gates for showing up with a scalped stub, as Ticket News reported.


The announcement came the same day Ticketmaster-owned TicketsNow officially launched a service that makes it easy for individuals to resell their tickets. The site, formerly dominated by brokers, follows the model of other resellers by promising authentic tickets, handling buyer-seller communication, offering prepaid shipping labels, and pocketing a 15% commission from the seller on each ticket sold. (It’s more upfront about the fee than some rivals, making sure sellers see it before they begin the ticket-posting process.)

On the similarities, StubHub spokesman Sean Pate says that this is old hat for his company.

“StubHub revolutionized the ticket market eight years ago by offering this level of service,” he notes in an e-mail.

The one thing it doesn’t have so far is a last-minute selling option for individuals. TicketsNow sellers have to have enough time to FedEx tickets to the buyer, so the sale ends well before the show. StubHub, which leads the secondary ticket sale market, can keep sales going until just before showtime, as long as a seller has mailed the tickets to StubHub in advance.

Ticketmaster acquired TicketsNow in February, and has said the company helped boost Ticketmaster revenue by 30% in the quarter ended June 30, to $382.4 million from $293.4 million. Ticketmaster purchased the company for $265 million, which is $45 million less than eBay paid for the larger StubHub in 2007.

And although Ticketmaster may have once been the biggest critic of reselling tickets — pursuing legislation to restrict brokers who sought big profits, among other efforts — it’s now playing the game.

But it still allows artists who may want to restrict resales to do so. AC/DC made select fan-club tickets for its upcoming tour “paperless,” which is less about being green than about keeping others from making green, whether for the sake of preventing fans from being priced out of up-close seats, or for the sake of keeping band-unaffiliated resellers from making big bucks, or both. Tom Waits and Metallica have used the technology too.

--Swati Pandey